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Skip to 0 minutes and 23 secondsMy name is Ger Baron, I work for the city of Amsterdam as their chief technology innovation officer and my role is to make sure we make use of technology to improve the quality of the city.

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 secondsThe ambition of Amsterdam is to reduce CO2 by 50 per cent in the next 20 years, but go to electric as well into the next 20 years. Within the next years, this city will face a lot of challenges. Basically the change from an industrial era, to the digital age, makes a lot of opportunities, and a lot of challenges. One of the biggest opportunities that I see it's a transition of energy to distributed systems. The merger of the internet together with energy grids gives us the opportunity to start generating the energy locally. Amsterdam has started its own energy company.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 secondsI think over the last 30 years, we have 40 new energy companies, over the last 3 years we have 40 new energy companies as well. Basically the speed of innovation is going to… well, speed we've never seen before I would said. In Amsterdam the deployment of smart energy grid system has been main recently along the way I would say. To a certain extent you need physical infrastructures, like energy grids to be adapted. And I think we're doing pretty reasonable, we should do better, actually also for electric vehicles etc.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 secondsBut on the other hand you can make the digital layer on top of it just as easily, basically you can make virtual power plants if needed, there's a lot possible in the perspective as well.

Skip to 1 minute and 56 secondsIn addition, I think the transition of energy is part of a bigger transition, from an industrial era to the digital era, and the problem is that, it's not a problem, the challenge, or the problem whichever way you wanna see it, is that is not only a transition on energy, it’s a transition of economy, it's a social transition. We will start to interact differently with each other, or as communities, et cetera It's also a change of economy, we got to a platform economy where everybody can start they own energy company if you wish, within in seconds we could decide today if we want to start an energy company.

Skip to 2 minutes and 26 secondsA combination of all these things makes it exciting actually, but also a great opportunity to rethink total system. A lot of projects are about incremental development of the current energy system basically, where I think we need to take this place to rethink the whole system basically. Who owns the assets, where are the incentives, and as long as incentives are selling as much energy from the coal plant as possible, doing more money, we are not there yet. So we need to redefine, reset the system.

Skip to 2 minutes and 56 secondsI think there are quite a few examples going around that we can make the transition and there are on a business model point of view, so you see a lot of new energy companies. Companies that don’t have any assets installed yet. When have a coal plant, is pretty hard to study effects of solar panels, because you need the write off all your old assets basically. So it’s easier to start your energy company, like I said 40 new energy companies within 3 years, I mean it’s quite impressive, all sustainable energy. Secondly, there are a lot of technology driven innovations that make it possible.

Skip to 3 minutes and 24 secondsVehicle to grid technologies are nowadays experimented around the city, battery storage is experiment quite a bit around the city. A lot of new energy collective that organize their own energy system behind, or rather besides the energy system basically. Borneo island is one of the examples, Amsterdam Arena is a great example of a stadium that can play football matches totally off the grid if they want to, because of solar panels and battery storage. I think there are quite a few examples on this perspective, for me the real disrupt needs to come in terms of the full-scale deployment over the city will be an option. And we are at the tipping point of doing that I think.

Skip to 4 minutes and 5 secondsThe interesting thing about electric mobility is that every car company I speak to, all the German companies, French companies, Japanese companies, they all tend to think that they will be an energy company in, let's say, 10 years. They have licenses to be an energy company, they have the storage, a balancing part of the energy grid and I do think that's a broader perspective, because it's easy to use a battery that are in cars basically to do a first level of storage makes it possible to get at the mass you need we want to use your local energy generators and solar panels.

Skip to 4 minutes and 40 secondsI think energy transition in the Netherlands is driven pretty much by bottom-up approach and are more demand from citizens that they want to change the system as it is. In Amsterdam we tend to speak about quadruple helixes because you want to involve citizens as well. And I think the quadruple helix is quite important in Amsterdam because you do need knowledge actually, from a Knowledge Institute.

Skip to 5 minutes and 1 secondAnd now we have funded the new Institute in Amsterdam which is the Amsterdam Advanced Metropolitan Solutions Institute, with idea that the knowledge is not only about electoral engineering, is not only about software, it’s not only about the green sciences or whatever, but it's a combination of hardware, software, environmental studies, et cetera, but a combination with a grid operator, Liander, in Amsterdam which I say it’s pretty good and necessary because when you see that in the transition from the system, you need a government that comes up with new regulations, existing stakeholders that are actually willing to invest in, while devaluating their assets to a certain extent, and invest in newer infrastructures.

Skip to 5 minutes and 44 secondsLiander nowadays is the biggest recruiter of IT talent in the region, because I needed to change their system, basically. I think there’s a pretty good collaboration. I would say the local government is playing an important role in bringing all the parties together to share data, to be the data hub between the several parties, to share data, the potential of roofs, the potential of solar, the potential of district heating and cooling, the potential of CHB, et cetera. We gather all the information and then you have Knowledge Institutes and companies who can elaborate on that. The most important thing is, for us, for the city to change, basically, is a bit of creative destruction of existing business models.

Skip to 6 minutes and 21 secondsIt think some better thinking is what we need a bit more I would say. So we need to get rid of, and there to write off, existing coal plants, gas plants, maybe even waste to energy plants, a bit faster, to make sure we have enough space for all the local energy, because potential is not the issue. There’s no better source of heat in the ground and energy on the ground in Amsterdam. There’s enough room for solar panels, potential is not the issue. The two issues are business models and storage. If Amsterdamers really want sustainable energy basically, probably a lot of them want to I would say 20, 30% will be anxious to really get sustainable energy in their houses.

Skip to 7 minutes and 0 secondsA lot of people want to be independent from energy from the Middle East and other countries, Russia, et cetera. So in the end most people understand that we need to take care of our own energy, and what helps, or doesn't help, in a way it's very negative actually, Is that The Netherlands used to be a gas exporting country, the gas we pumped from the ground in the north of The Netherlands used to be one of our biggest export products. Nowadays, we see that houses are going to the ground, with earthquakes over there… so we do see that we need different sources of energy and I think we are pretty much up to generating it ourselves.

Skip to 7 minutes and 33 secondsFor air quality, I think with CO2, a lot of people are not really well filled with the that issue, to be frank. NOx and particle pollution is something that is a big issue in the quality of air, so we're very much into the priority program, I would say, it's pretty intense, we try to get to it as soon as possible, from little things, city logistics, scooters but also from personal cars basically.

Meet the expert: Perspective from a big city’s CTO

The following interview takes us to the Netherlands, where we will meet the Chief Technology Officer of the city of Amsterdam. He will explain how they integrate technology to improve the quality of the city and how they intend to reach the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 50% in the next 20 years.

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This video is from the free online course:

Smart Grids for Smart Cities: Towards Zero Emissions